What Constitutes a Strong Female Protagonist?
There are two main features of a strong female character.
They need the intestinal fortitude and ability to handle the situations they find themselves in, and they must have the courage to face life on life’s terms. That includes the loss of loved ones, broken hearts, illness and willingness to surrender to love. Simply writing an “action character” isn’t enough. The strong female protagonist or antagonist must be human first.
My two favourite strong female protagonists exist on opposite sides of the crime vortex.
Emilia, of the Emilia Cruz Series by Carmen Amato, is the first female detective in Acapulco. As such she contends with, not only criminals, but the disdain and interference from her co-workers. She has determination, intelligence and guts. Emilia’s characteristics also include compassion and a desire for love. She is both strength and vulnerable, making her a believable, powerful force in the stories.
Katla Sieltjes lives on the flip side of the coin. As the protagonist in the Amsterdam Assassin Series by Martyn V. Halm, she exhibits the unfeeling heart of a cold-blooded killer. Katla is intelligent, calculating and well versed in many forms of combat, both with weaponry and hand-to-hand. However, her need for acceptance and love exposes the humanity that exists deep within her soul. Rather than create a lead character that is all-powerful and unrealistic, Halm gives us a glimpse into the very being of someone ensconced in a world that, while she rules it, she cannot escape.
Keeping the protagonist you are writing about as an authentic human being first will help you create a believable, endearing character. The authors I’ve noted earlier have managed to do that extremely well.
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